We all had our fair share of positive and negative online reviews. On both, the personal and professional fronts. Surely, our judgment differs when it comes to replying to those comments, but the question remains, why is responding to positive and negative online reviews a cardinal factor?
Well, in today’s digitally-driven world and online-linked societies ignoring consumers complains is like shooting yourself in the foot! It’s an unacceptable behavior. Nine times out of ten, it makes the situation more complicated. It’s not rocket science, it’s actually simple, people are enraged when ignored. Even if you’re a five-stars restaurant!
The takeaway is: Respond to online reviews before they avalanche!
Since we’ve established the importance of acknowledging online reviews, here are few key protocols on how to handle the situation, because just responding isn’t going to cut it. It’s amazing what fine-etiquette may achieve.
Be quick and respectful, the customer wanted to communicate with you through your platform and believes it significantly matters that you hear what they have to say! Treat it as a 911 call, respond quickly and demonstrate how
in-sync your restaurant is with its customers. Ensure your sprinkle some flakes of respect over your quick-served response, there’s great value in showing good table manners – pun intended!
Be authentic and offer to “make up”, tailor your response to the customer so you don’t sound like an automated bot using the same copy/paste cliché. People hate that. So, be sympathetic and avoid using marketing terminologies with a customer who just spilled their heart out, spill yours in return. Offer to make it up and get creative, give them vouchers, offer a free-dinner to their entire family, if you make the people they care about happy, they will also be happy with you!
Take responsibility, steer the issue offline and ask for a second chance, sounds like a valentine date gone wrong, doesn’t it! This step is self-explanatory, own the wrong and be responsible for it. Take the conversation offline, we’ve mentioned earlier that your aim to achieve both 1) Showcasing you’d take the extra mile for the customer and for reputation protection. 2) Minimize the online back & forth. Lastly, offer a 2nd chance for a great experience.
I also a few don’ts that you need to consider, here we go:
DO NOT ignore it like nothing had happened. DO NOT make the deadly mistake of blocking the customer. DO NOT delete the comment, they will write a nastier one. DO NOT launch an attack on the customer whiplashing their online review, it’s not advised. DO NOT resort to the non-apology apology, like saying “our restaurant has been serving class-A dishes since years, we’re sorry that your experience wasn’t as expected.” See what I did there? Reinforced my leading market position while there was no real apology and the lack of sincerity was crystal-clear. DO NOT undermine or mock the customer’s review, because first, you do not know them and second, they also know how to undermine and mock but their words are much more damaging than yours.
Follow the above protocols and you should be covered for negative online reviews. Though, what about positive ones? When a customer leaves a dazzling five-star online review, it’s your golden chance to engage with a happy customer, this benefits both, your restaurant’s brand identity and your relationship with that customer. Keep in mind, online reviews and review sites are public, therefore, positive conversations that happen about your restaurant there can do wonders!
The mantra is to keep it simple, neat and clean. Most importantly, stay thankfully humble. Here are few tips:
Thank the customer for their positive online review and specify it, if they mentioned a specific dish/staff, ensure you channel your thanks towards that. Rather than an emotionless standard line!
Get smart but stay true, mention your restaurant’s name and plug in some keywords in your response. This will help the positive review to appear in search results and enhance your presence in the online review site. Example: Our team at [restaurant name] is humbled to hear your kind words, especially Joe! We hold your testimonial at highest esteem and will ensure to enhance your experience every time you visit our cozy [restaurant name] in [city name]. Did you know about our crazy #Tuesday_lunch offer?
DO NOT be arrogant nor flaunty, it’s the worst. DO NOT take it for granted, like saying “we know our soup is the bomb, it’s about time you agreed!”. That is just uncool. DO NOT slack in rewarding it, a sincere thank you would do the job. DO NOT ignore it, you were leaving no stone unturned to rectify a negative review; what are you willing to do to retain a positive one?
In summary, online reviews influence the way customers think about your restaurant. Keep in mind that your reputation is shaped not only by what you say, but also — probably mostly — by what customers are saying on online review sites. It may seem you have slight control over how customers perceive your restaurant, you can still actively participate in improving your online reputation. Responding to online reviews, is of the best ways to do so.